Kenya’s Centum Investment to buy back shares, first half pre-tax loss widens

FILE PHOTO: Women work at the front desk of the Centum Investment Company Limited in Nairobi, Kenya

NAIROBI (Reuters) -Kenya’s Centum Investment plans to buy back up to 10% of its issued shares, it said on Tuesday after reporting a wider first-half loss.

The group, which invests in listed firms and private companies, said it planned to buy the shares from the market over a period of 18 months at a maximum of 9.03 shillings per share and a minimum of 0.50 shillings.

Centrum’s shares were trading at 8.00 shillings by 0723 GMT, up 1.3% on the day.

“The share buyback is expected to provide liquidity to shareholders who may not have been able to trade due to the current depressed market conditions,” said James Mworia, Centum’s chief executive officer.

Centum’s performance is keenly watched by investors as it offers exposure to opportunities such as shopping mall developments and companies across East Africa.

The group’s pretax loss widened to 1.24 billion shillings ($10.14 million) in the six months to end-September from a loss of 697 million shillings in the same period a year earlier.

“This performance was primarily driven by the impact of unrealised foreign exchange losses on U.S. dollar liabilities and currency translation losses on Uganda shilling,” Mworia said.

The Kenyan shilling has fallen 7.6% versus the dollar so far this year and 2.7% versus the Ugandan currency.

Unrealised foreign exchange losses rose to 517 million shillings from 48 million shillings in the same period of 2021, the company said in a presentation.

Group results include the performance of Centum’s subsidiaries, associates and joint-venture investments.

Centum said company net asset value per share, a key measure of performance for investment firms, fell to 59.77 shillings from 62.10 shillings.

It said it expected the sale of its 83.4% stake in Kenya’s Sidian Bank to Nigeria’s Access Bank, for 4.3 billion shillings, to be completed in December.

($1 = 122.3500 Kenyan shillings)

(Reporting by George Obulutsa; Editing by Alexander Winning, Kirsten Donovan)